#0086 - Siata 200 CS Berlinetta by Balbo, #CS071, 1954
Photographed: Radnor Hunt Concours d'Elegance, 2011. Owner: Walter Eisenstark
Acronymns: Like so many western cultures, the Italians love their acronymns. In fact, the hitherto well known practice of surname marques, the likes of which are perhaps headlined by Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Bizzarrini (in chronological order), were formerly over-run by less romantic, but equally rational titles. These were ALFA, FIAT, and SIATA, all of which were born in the pre-World War II era, and were perhaps only off-set by the emergence of Vincenzo Lancia's remarkable firm. Capital letters all-round! And, of course, we should note that of this group, FIAT is a special case in that it references the Latin fiat, meaning a decree or command, usually in a divine sense, which makes the name quite useful from a marketing perspective.
And so let's get the mystifying jargon out of the way. Personally, I've read the Siata acronymn numerous times, but it hasn't taken root just yet as, I'm ashamed to say, NSKK has. Anyhow, SIATA: Societa Italiana Auto Transformazioni Accessori. Here we have all the right components—a society, an Italian society at that, and the ubiquitous auto reference. And the key of course is in the last two words, which do indeed mean Transformation Accessories, quite appropriate as the company began as a tuning concern of, what else, but Fiats.
Proporzione: In the coming days we'll be running a couple other features on Siata, although the one I'd most like to display (but don't yet have in stock) is the Stabilimenti Farina version of this closed car. Farina began body production, originating a classical form on this Fiat-derived, lightweight Siata tuner car, and Balbo picked up the run after approximately six were completed. A further nine or so went out the door with an hommage to the Stabilimenti Farina shape, and so it would be wonderful to compare the two. But alas, I've only been fortunate to find a spyder version by Stabilimenti Farina, and that will have to do, at least in contrast to the Rocco Motto bodied spyder.
In any case, what we see here is a tilt toward a bean-shaped car—not quite the same low and lean aspect Stabilimenti Farina managed, and not possessing of the same treatment over the hood and down along the tail. Instead, the belt line is carried a bit higher, with a little more arch in the front quarters, giving the car a springy type of feel.
Eye-lid headlamps, bonnet scoop, louvres, and flank vent remain faithful in spirit, if not in precision, (and it should be noted that this vent appears on the Stabilimenti Farina Spyders, but not all coupes). Big changes are evident in the grille, which trades a bold vertical arrangement with twin driving lights for this egg-crate pattern sans driving lights, not to be confused with the marker lights that appear on most, if not all examples. In the fascia, note that the effect is rather horizontal, although the divided rectangular grid becomes apparent from most any angle besides.
Bellissima: All told, this is a gem of a car. We'll speak a little more about the 200 CS itself in the context of the regular production spyder, but for the time being share some information presented by the owner. I also offer him thanks for taking time to open the car up for our cameras and providing a pleasant chat—always a nice way to begin the day at a concours.
This is chassis #CS071, which readers of Automobile Quarterly will know from volume 23, no. 2, and which entered the United States in 1954. Port of entry was New York, and over the next five years and three owners the car apparently didn't move too far from its adopted home in spite of regular entry in S.C.C.A. events. By the summer of 1959 the coupe was parked in a used car lot in Queens, where it was purchased by the present owner's father, Dr. J. Eisenstark, who was a long standing member of the V.S.C.C.A., and used the Siata regularly during his stewardship.
Today the car retains its original body and motor. The color was originally dark blue, but was changed to red some time in the late fifties, then refreshed in 1966. After more than 50 years in the same family, it has approximately 36,000 miles on the odometer.
Now, it's worth pointing out that even though Siata was but a tiny producer, almost all of their magnificent little cars came to the United States, so the trajectory of this Siata's story is to be expected to some degree. However, the berlinetta cars remain extremely rare, with maybe six Balbo examples known to exist in the world according to Mr. Eisenstark. This is a remarkable feat, then, to see a largely original 200 CS, and that it is a car so well loved by one family for such a long time.
Cliff Reuter's Etceterini: Worth waiting for the page to load for period photos of numerous 208 CS examples, including the example featured here, along with a few photos snapped by Mr. Eisenstark himself.
UltimateCarPage: View reliable specifications and history on the Siata 208 CS Stabilimenti Farina Coupe.
Supercars.net: Less information, so we'll go right to the Siata 208 CS gallery.
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